Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But they were unable to answer him, because they were terrified in his presence.
Jacob had long since passed the hundred-year milestone. In those times people were distinguished for longevity. In the centuries after persons lived to great age. What a strong and unfailing thing is parental attachment! Was it not almost time for Jacob to forget Joseph? The hot suns of many summers had blazed on the heath; the river Nile had overflowed and receded, overflowed and receded again and again; the seed had been sown and the harvest reaped; stars rose and set; years of plenty and years of famine had passed on, but the love of Jacob for Joseph in my text is overwhelming dramatic. Oh, that is a cord that is not snapped, though pulled at by many decades! Joseph was as fresh in Jacob's memory as ever, though at seventeen years of age the boy had disappeared from the old homestead. I found in our family record the story of an infant that had died fifty years ago, and I said to my parents, "What is this record, and what does it mean?" Their chief answer was a long, deep sigh. It was to them a very tender sorrow. What does all that mean? Why, it means our children departed are ours yet, and that cord of attachment reaching across the years will hold us until it brings us together in the palace as Jacob and Joseph were brought together. That is one thing that makes old people die happy. They realize it is reunion with those from whom they have long been separated. Oh parent, as you think of the darling panting and white in membranous croup, I want you to know it will be gloriously bettered in that land where there has never been a death, and where all the inhabitants will live on in the great future as long as God! Joseph was Joseph notwithstanding the palace, and your child will be your child notwithstanding all the reigning splendour of everlasting noon. What a thrilling visit was that of the old shepherd to the Prime Minister, Joseph! I see the old countryman, seated in the palace, looking around at the mirrors and the fountains and the carved pillars, and oh, how he wishes that Rachel, his wife, was alive; she could have come there with him to see their son in his great house. "Oh," says the old man, within himself, "I do wish Rachel could be here and see all this!" I visited at the farmhouse of the father of Millard Fillmore, when the son was President of the United States, and the octogenarian farmer entertained me until eleven o'clock at night, telling me what great things he had seen in his son's house at Washington, and what Daniel Webster said to him, and how grandly Millard treated his father in the White House. The old man's face was illuminated with the story until almost midnight. He had just been visiting his son at the capital. And! suppose it was something of the same joy that thrilled the heart of the old shepherd as he stood in the palace of the Prime Minister. It is a great day with you when your old parents come to visit you. Blessed is that home where Christian parents came to visit! Whatever may have been the style of the architecture when they came, it is a palace before they leave. By this time you will notice what kindly provision Joseph made for his father, Jacob. Joseph did not say, "I can't have the old man around this place. How clumsy he would look climbing up these marble stairs and walking over these mosaics. Then he would be putting his hands upon some of these frescoes. People would wonder where that old greenhorn came from. He would shock all the Egyptian court with his manners at table. Besides that, he might get sick on my hands, and he might talk to me as though I were only a boy, when I am the second man in all the realm. Of course he must not suffer, and if there is famine in his country — and I hear there is — I will send him some provisions, but I can't take a man from Padan-aram and introduce him into this polite Egyptian court. What a nuisance it is to have poor relations!" Joseph did not say that, but he rushed out to meet his father with perfect abandon of affection, and brought him up to the palace and introduced him to the king, and provided for all the rest of the father's days, and nothing was too good for the old man while living, and when he was dead, Joseph, with military escort, took his father's remains to the family cemetery at Machpelah, and put them down beside Rachel, Joseph's mother. Would God all children were as kind to their parents! "Over the hills to the poor-house" is the exquisite ballad of Will Carleton, who found an old woman who had been turned off by her prospered sons; but I think I may find in my text "Over the hills to the palace." As if to disgust us with unfilial conduct, the Bible presents us with the story of Micah, who stole a thousand shekels from his mother, and the story of Absalom, who tried to dethrone his father. But all history is beautiful with stories of filial fidelity. Epimandes, the warrior, found his chief delight in reciting to his parents his victories. There goes AEneas from burning Troy, on his shoulders Anchises, his father. The Athenians punished with death any unfilial conduct. There goes beautiful Ruth escorting venerable Naomi across the desert amid the howling of the wolves and the barking of the jackals. John Lawrence, burned at the stake in Colchester, was cheered in the flames by his children, who said, "O God, strengthen Thy servant and keep Thy promise." And Christ in the hour of excruciation provided for His mother. Jacob kept his resolution, "I will go and see him before I die," and a little while after we find them walking the tessellated floor of the palace, Jacob and Joseph, the Prime minister proud of the shepherd. I may say in regard to the most of you that your parents have probably visited you for the last time, or will soon pay you such a visit, and I have wondered if they will ever visit you in the King's palace. "Oh," you say, "I am in the pit of sin." Joseph was in the pit. "Oh," you say, "I am in the prison of mine iniquity." Joseph was once in prison. "Oh," you say, "I didn't have a fair chance; I was denied maternal kindness." Joseph was denied maternal attendance. "Oh," you say, "I am far away from the land of my nativity." Joseph was far from home. "Oh," you say, "I have been betrayed and exasperated." Did not Joseph's brethren sell him to a passing Ishmaelitish caravan? Yet God brought him to that emblazoned residence, and if you will trust His grace in Jesus Christ you too will be empalaced. Oh, what a day that will be when the old folks come from an adjoining mansion in heaven, and find you amid the alabaster pillars of the throne-room and living with the King! They are coming up the steps now, and the epauletted guard of the palace rushes in and says, "Your father's coming, your mother's coming." And when, under the arches of precious stones and on the pavement of porphyry, you greet each other, the scene will eclipse the meeting on the Goshen highway, when Joseph and Jacob fell on each other's neck and wept a good while.
Not a stranger, but a brother. Yet they were slow to receive comfort from it. The fact beyond all expectation; the suspicion of the unknown ruler attaching itself to the newly-found brother; the remembrance of their own former cruelty; the doubt whether indeed the past were forgiven, combined to make them "troubled at his presence." Akin to this is the slowness with which the great revelation of the gospel is received, our adoption as sons (Galatians 4:5
) through our brotherhood with Christ; members of Christ, and thus children of God. Not the doctrine, for we are familiar with its terms, but the practical reception of it. The gospel preached is "good-will to men;" the foundation on which it rests is the work whereby the eternal Son became our brother and representative (2 Corinthians 5:14
). The means of appropriation, belief that God has indeed done this thing for us (Matthew 11:28
). Yet even to those who are longing for peace and salvation the message often seems to bring no real comfort. The truth of the doctrine is admitted, but Jesus is not recognized as a personal, present Savior. There is a feeling that something not declared lies behind; that there is some unexplained "if," some condition to be fulfilled, some part of the work to be done, ere it can be safe to trust. Conscious of sin, they do not fully receive the offer as made to them such as they are. The fact is, men often want to begin at the wrong end; to make some worthy offering to God ere they have it to give (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14
; 1 Corinthians 4:7
); want to gather fruit ere the tree is planted; to build a spiritual house ere the foundation is laid.
I. GOD'S OFFER PRECEDES FAITH. The gospel proclaims a fact - Christ crucified for us, the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5. Its primary message is not of something to follow our faith, but of that on which our faith rests. The "foundation" of spiritual life is not our belief but Christ's work (1 Corinthians 3:11). But in practice many seem to regard the right to trust in Christ's work as depending on their being in a fitting state of mind. And thus their mind is turned away from Christ to their own state (cf. Matthew 14:30). No doubt there must be a conviction of need ere the Savior can e welcomed (Matthew 9:12). But the evidence of that conviction is not our feelings but laying our burden upon the Lord.
II. GOD'S OFFER MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH - that is, it must be accepted as it is made; not something else put in its place. God's message is, Trust in Christ. To do this is to exercise faith. But the answer often is, I must first see whether I have faith. It is as if when our Lord bade the impotent arise, he had answered, I must first feel that I have the power. Faith depends not on accurate knowledge. The gospel is for the ignorant; and what it claims is that we receive it according to the measure of our knowledge, guided by those means of instruction which we possess.
III. GOD'S OFFER IS TO MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE. Christ accepted, trusted, is made unto us wisdom, &c. (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith leads to more communion with Christ. The Bible becomes a living voice instead of a dead letter. Channels of knowledge are opened, and daily increasing powers are given where the will is to be really Christ's (John 6:68). - M.
And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive.
Joseph is a type or figure of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Joseph, in his younger days, was distinguished from his brethren by a purity of life which became the more observable in contrast with their dissolute manners, and caused an evil report to be sent to their father. His brethren saw him afar off, and conspired to kill him. In this we have a true picture of the Jews' treatment of Christ.
2. Joseph was carried down into Egypt, even as was Christ in His earliest days. Joseph was cast into prison, emblematic of the casting of Jesus into the grave, the prison of death; Joseph was imprisoned with two accused persons — the chief butler and the chief baker of Pharaoh; Christ was crucified between two malefactors. It was in the third year that Joseph was liberated, and on the third day that our Saviour rose.
3. It is as a liberated man that Joseph is most. signally the type of our Redeemer. Set free from prison, Joseph became the second in the kingdom, even as the Redeemer, rising from the prison of the grave, became possessed in His mediatorial capacity of all power in heaven and earth, and yet so possessed as to be subordinate to the Father. Joseph was raised up of God to be a preserver of life during years of famine. Christ, in His office of Mediator, distributes bread to the hungry. All men shall flock to Jesus, eager for the bread that came down from heaven.
4. Joseph's kinsmen were the last to send into Egypt for corn, just as the Jews have been longest refusing to own Christ as their Deliverer.
1. The first truth which I would point out to you as being strikingly illustrated and confirmed by this history is this: that THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD REGULATES THE MINUTEST MATTERS, and that He doeth all things according to His will, in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth. None are so besotted as not to acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being; but the extent of His agency, and the interest He takes in the affairs of men, are far from being duly appreciated.
2. Another truth which this history equally confirms is that WICKED MEN, THOUGH FOLLOWING THEIR OWN DEVICES AND ACTUATED SOLELY BY THEIR OWN EVIL INCLINATIONS, DO BUT BRING TO PASS THE SECRET PURPOSES OF THE MOST HIGH. NO one, indeed, can read this history and not see the truth of the psalmist's exclamation, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee (Psalm 76:10). And truly many events recorded in the Scriptures teach us the very same thing. What caused the gospel of Christ to be preached throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria by the early converts? The persecution raised at Jerusalem against the infant Church, and intended for its utter destruction (Acts 8:1). Again, when the Apostle Paul had gone through part of Asia and Greece, it was God's intention that he should preach the gospel at Rome also; but who were the agents employed to bring about this His purpose? The Asiatic Jews, who raised a tumult which threatened the apostle's life; scribes and Pharisees and wicked men, who bound themselves by an oath to kill him; and two Roman governors, one of whom, though he doubted not his innocence, to please the Jews, left him in prison, and the other, who, from no better motive, obliged him to appeal to Caesar, that he might not be taken back to Jerusalem.
3. Another truth which in this history we see clearly brought before us is that GOD'S PEOPLE ARE OFTEN TRIED BY GREAT AND LONG-CONTINUED AFFLICTION. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psalm 34:19).
4. Another truth which this history strongly confirms is that, HOWEVER LONG OR SOUNDLY CONSCIENCE MAY SLEEP, WHEN GOD IS PLEASED TO AROUSE IT, THE MOST STOUT-HEARTED SINNER WILL BE STRUCK WITH TERROR AND ALARM.
II. But I will now direct your attention to some of THE LESSONS OF INSTRUCTION WHICH THIS HISTORY MAY FURNISH US WITH.
1. And, first, we may learn from it to put full and entire trust in the promises of God, and not to be moved from our confidence by any apparently untoward events.
2. Learn from this history to maintain uprightness and integrity in all your dealings, and to combine an active use of means with an earnest prayer for a blessing upon them. When Jacob determined to send his sons a second time into Egypt, he bids them take back the money found in the mouths of their sacks, saying, "Peradventure it was an oversight."
3. Learn, again, from this history, that, as Joseph behaved towards his brethren, so God often deals with His people, and with the same object, namely, to make them sensible of their sins and to effect their humiliation.
4. Learn, lastly, from the example of Joseph, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.
I will go and see him before I die. —
()There was once a boy in Liverpool who went into the water to bathe, and he was carried out by the tide. Though he struggled long and hard, be was not able to swim against the ebbing tide, and he was taken far out to sea. He was picked up by a boat belonging to a vessel bound for Dublin. The poor little boy was almost lost. The sailors were all very kind to him when he was taken into the vessel. One gave him a cap, another a jacket, another a pair of shoes, and so on. But that evening a gentleman, who was walking near the place where the little boy had gone into the water, found his clothes lying on the shore. He searched and made inquiries, but no tidings were to be heard of the poor little boy. He found a piece of paper in the pocket of the boy's coat, by which he discovered who it was to whom the clothes belonged. The kind man went with a sad and heavy heart to break the news to the parents. He said to the father, "I am very sorry to tell you that I found these clothes on the shore, and could not find the lad to whom they belonged; I almost fear he has been drowned." The father could hardly speak for grief; the mother was wild with sorrow. They caused every inquiry to be made, but no account was to be had of their dear boy. The house was sad; the little children missed their playfellow; mourning was ordered; the mother spent her time crying, and the father's heart was heavy. He said little, but he felt much. The lad was taken back in a vessel bound for Liverpool, and arrived on the day the mourning was to be brought home. As soon as he reached Liverpool, he set off toward his father's house. He did not like to be seen in the strange cap and jacket and shoes which he had on, so he went by the lanes, where he would not meet those who knew him. At last he came to the hall door. He knocked. When the servant opened it, and saw who it was, she screamed with joy, and said, "Here is Master Tom!" His father rushed out, and, bursting into tears, embraced him. His mother fainted; there was no more spirit in her. What a happy evening they all, parents and children, spent! They did not want the mourmng. The father could say with Jacob, "It is enough; my son is yet alive."
PeopleBenjamin, Egyptians, Jacob, Joseph, Pharaoh
PlacesCanaan, Egypt, Goshen
TopicsAble, Affrighted, Alive, Brethren, Brothers, Couldn't, Dismayed, Joseph, Presence, Terrified, Troubled, Yet
Outline1. Joseph makes himself known to his brothers.
5. He comforts them in God's providence.
9. He sends for his father.
16. Pharaoh confirms it.
21. Joseph furnishes then for their journey.
25. Jacob is revived with the news.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 45:3
5567 suffering, emotional
6718 reconciliation, believers
"And God has thus sent me before you to prepare for you a permanence on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."--Genesis xlv., v. 7. In a time of effort, suffering and grief such as this country has never before known, it is well that we should have frequent occasions for a review of the position in which we stand for a strengthening of our sinews to continue the struggle in the spirit of the high and noble resolve which induced our participation in it. This week-end will be a …
B. N. Michelson—No. 4, Intersession
Jacob and Doubting Souls --A Parallel
"And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die."--Genesis 45:28. I THINK THAT THE PATRIARCH JACOB may well serve as the type and emblem of a doubting soul, one who has been told the good news of salvation, the gospel of God's grace, but who cannot bring his mind to believe it. Let us think for a few minutes of old Jacob. First of all, he was a man who was very ready to believe evil tidings. When his sons held up before him a coat dipped in the blood …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 42: 1896
Jesus and his Brethren
"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 43: 1897
Gifts Received for the Rebellious
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. W hen Joseph exchanged a prison for the chief honour and government of Egypt, the advantage of his exaltation was felt by those who little deserved it (Genesis 45:4, 5) . His brethren hated him, and had conspired to kill him. And though he was preserved from death, they were permitted to sell him for a bond-servant. He owed his servitude, …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2
Letter xv (Circa A. D. 1129) to Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin
To Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin He praises the fatherly gentleness of Alvisus towards Godwin. He excuses himself, and asks pardon for having admitted him. To Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin.  1. May God render to you the same mercy which you have shown towards your holy son Godwin. I know that at the news of his death you showed yourself unmindful of old complaints, and remembering only your friendship for him, behaved with kindness, not resentment, and putting aside the character of judge, showed yourself …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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